Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today pointed to new government
statistics showing the number of pupils being excluded from school has been
cut since Labour came to power. The national figures published on 23rd May
show that the number of permanent exclusions has been cut by more than a
third since Labour came to office. The most recent local statistics show
that there was a 36% cut in the number of permanent exclusions in
Hertfordshire secondary schools between 1997-98 and 1999-00.
Peter Lilley said:
“I would be pleased if these figures reflected an improvement in pupil
behaviour in the classroom, but I fear that the reduction in the number of
permanent exclusions is due to headteachers? hands being tied. Labour?s
arbitrary targets over the last five years have served to undermine
discipline, weaken headteachers? authority and lower teacher morale in
“Disruptive pupils have been kept in class or in school to the detriment of
both themselves and other pupils. Vulnerable children need specialist help.
Local teachers are best placed to make those decisions, not Whitehall
bureaucrats. Labour?s policy is in chaos – they have now abandoned these
targets, but the damage has been done.
“If the Government wanted to be effective in tackling the crisis of
discipline, it would start by redressing the balance in favour of teachers
in local schools. Conservatives would give power over exclusions back to
heads and governors. We should look at scrapping the expensive,
time-consuming and legalistic appeal panels, which second-guess the decision
of governors? disciplinary panels.”
Cllr. Robert Gordon, Hertfordshire County Council Executive Member with
responsibility for Children, Schools & Families, adds that Hertfordshire has
shifted its approach in light of Labour?s mishandling of school exclusions.
“We also recognise the effect that the unacceptable behaviour of a few
children has on the hard-working majority and on school staff. Greater
clarity has been introduced to re-affirm that exclusion must remain the
right response to behaviour that undermines the learning opportunities –
and, possibly, the safety – of others.”